South Africa

High hopes for Stuart Pettigrew at the Vaal

horse racing vaal

Pettigrew saddles three runners with winning chances.

In what is a typical midweek card at the Vaal on Thursday, bettors could find themselves being challenged but it could turn out to be a good meeting for trainer Stuart Pettigrew.

The Randjesfontein-based trainer has three runners carded at this meeting on the Classic track and it would come as no surprise were he to bag a clean sweep with his trio. Clearly the bookmakers see it as a possibility as all three have been priced up as the favourite in their respective races.

First up is Twenty Drachma’s in Race 2, a Maiden Plate over 2000m, and on paper, he is the horse to beat. Based on merit ratings the three-year-old son of Danon Platina is at least 2.5kg better weighted than any of his opponents.

After a very poor first outing, he was given a rest and has steadily been improving with each run since. Although going off at 50-1 last time over 1600m, he ran on steadily to finish a neck behind Jury’s Out.

He appears to be crying out for a little more distance and if that is the case, he will be hard to stop over this 2000m. Based on average merit ratings, he is taking a drop in class on this occasion as well.

Philasande Mxoli has ridden him in his last three starts and should get his reward for that hard work on this occasion.

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Next up for Pettigrew is Duenna in Race 7, a MR 68 Handicap over 1450m. This lightly raced three-year-old filly has only raced seven times for a win and four places, and she will be taking on the boys for the first time.

However, this does not appear to be the strongest of races and Pettigrew may have found the ideal vehicle for the daughter of Fire Away. Despite having to give weight to some older runners, Duenna does look to be the runner with the most scope for improvement and as such, should have the ability to notch up her second career win.

Calvin Habib has been aboard for her last two runs, and he will take the ride once again. She is also well enough drawn in barrier No 5.

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Pettigrew’s runner in Race 9 is probably the most interesting of the lot because she could be anything.

Sweet Basil made her debut in May as a two-year-old in open company over 1400m up the Vaal straight and showed a lot of guts to get up and beat Count Your Chances by 0.10 lengths.

This daughter of Flower Alley comes up in the MR 68 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1450m and once again, it is not a particularly strong field. We will know a lot more about her after this match because not only does she have to come back from a 175-day break but also will need to overcome No 12 draw.

Habib takes this ride as well.